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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston opens Paul English AI Institute

On Tuesday, Oct. 31, tech entrepreneurs, industry leaders and academic experts joined UMass Boston alumni Paul English for the inauguration of his Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute. According to its webpage, the Paul English AI Institute promises to give UMass Boston students in every field “the skills to excel in and shape the increasingly AI-powered world of work.” This will include research, education and outreach activities embedded into academic study across campus. [1]

The inauguration took place in a Campus Center third floor ballroom. It included a panel discussion on how Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the workforce, and afterward, a question and answer session with the audience. The panelists included two UMass Boston professors, an associate director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and the co-founder of TEDxBoston. English himself, the creator of the Institute, also participated in the discussions. [2]

A formal announcement was given from UMass Boston in May of this year on the creation of the Institute. English, who received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in computer science from UMass Boston, invested five million dollars to make this possible. English has had an extensive career as the founder of several technology companies and non-profit organizations. [3]

The launch of the Paul English AI Institute, the nation’s first university-based institute dedicated to making AI accessible to everyone, signals UMass Boston’s initiative to be at the forefront of education. The Institute will gather UMass Boston faculty across all schools and colleges to encourage including AI skills in their curriculum. [3]

As UMass Boston Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco puts it, in an op-ed for The Messenger, “like the beginning of writing, the development of the steam engine and the invention of the computer, Artificial Intelligence will fundamentally change how we live and work.” [4]

Chancellor Suarez-Orozco hopes that this new collaboration with the Paul English AI Institute will address the opportunities, challenges and concerns regarding AI: “Supporting the democratization of AI in education will offer the tools to every student who wants to graduate with a fluency in using AI-powered tools to improve their engagement in their chosen professional field of study: AI for Management, AI for Teacher Education; AI for Environmental Studies and so on.” [4]

Artificial Intelligence has many benefits, but because it is still an emerging technology, its full impacts are yet to be seen. However, what has been observed so far is that without proper regulations and oversight, the use of AI can be damaging.

The issue of companies using artwork from the internet without the artists’ consent to train their AI models has continued to be an ongoing problem. Artificial Intelligence not only mimics works of art, it can also mimic the voices and appearances of people. Artificial Intelligence is not limited to visual and auditory mediums, but also writing.

All of this is to say that AI is powerful, and it has much opportunity to continue growing and learning. At this point in time, while the technology is still emerging, the oversight needed must be developed. Without it, where can the lines be drawn?

UMass Boston’s initiative to establish the Paul English AI Institute is a step in the right direction. If students have access to current research on Artificial Intelligence and can learn how to use it themselves, they will be better prepared to ask these questions. The Paul English AI Institute will be a valuable resource in connecting students with current knowledge of AI, and in turn, preparing them for the future.

[1] https://www.umb.edu/ai/
[2] https://umassbostonailaunch.my.canva.site/
[3] https://www.umb.edu/news/recent-news/umass-boston-launches-the-paul-english-applied-art/
[4] https://themessenger.com/opinion/how-do-we-prepare-students-for-an-ai-driven-world